Henna tattoos can have a different meaning for many people, especially in the Middle East where Arabic henna designs are widely popular.
Designs made from henna are completely free form and have no specific meaning and are meant for the sheer beauty of the art with no religious or cultural meaning. Henna is made primarily of several design styles which includes flowers, paisley designs, intricate lines, shading and doily designs.
Permanent tattoos in the Muslim world are greatly frowned upon, which makes henna a very popular alternative that dates back hundreds of years and is steeped in tradition. Men in the Arab world do not partake in the art of henna as it is seen as feminine, something sensual and sexual, as well as erotic.
Henna can be seen in countries all around the globe despite its roots being firmly planted in the Middle East existing in India, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco among just a few. Indian court records cite its use as a hair dye around 400 CE and it was listed in the medical texts of the Ebers Papyrus as a medicinal herb. Mehndi tattoos can be seen in many Arab states, however, tattooing is not a particularly Arab tradition and strict Muslims discourage the practice.
Henna is made out of a plant that is dried, ground to a dust and then made in to a paste by adding essential oils. The henna tattoo can consist of nearly any pattern or series of patterns and the more elaborate the design the more erotic and sensual it is. These patterns can wrap around your fingers, wrist, ankle or any other curved part of your body. For this purpose the designs found in Middle Eastern cultures are often placed on the hand or on the top of the foot. Henna makes it easy to get a tattoo without it being against Muslim traditions, since they only last a few weeks.

The typical style in the originating country is that of large floral patterns painted all over the body, but as the design spreads it changes to meet the needs of the people. The henna plant has been used since the Bronze Age for dyeing skin, leather, silk, wool and hair.
However, henna tattoos are common among indigenous tribes in North Africa, where women adorn themselves with various symbolic designs.The practice of mehndi became popular in India after the Mughals made the art fashionable in the 12th century. Henna got its start in the Arab culture and remains popular to this day and growing in popularity in other countries.
Henna designs are typically applied by using a cone bag much like one used by pastry chefs. These beautifully intricate designs are applied mainly to young women to glamorize themselves (older women will also sometimes wear henna) to their husbands after their wedding and during the ceremony.
With this said, it makes a great alternative for someone younger to get the feel of a tattoo as well as being able to function in a job that may frown upon body art. Cultivated commercially in most countries of northern Africa as well as some parts of Asia, this plant has enjoyed a renewed surge of interest, due in part to emigration.Emirati women often wear henna design to weddings, special occasions or just for fun! Used mainly in the cosmetics industry as a hair colorant, there has been a massive increase in its use as a temporary form of skin decoration. These temporary skin paintings quickly became very popular among royals and the upper classes; and in time designs became part of the traditional make up of brides. Instead, the traditional Arabic designs reveal more skin than Indian patterns and consist of delicate floral effects, whereas those from India contain swaths of paisley, floral and lace patterns.Arabic designs are spaced further apart and the henna tattoo is therefore much more visible. The paste that is made is placed into a cone or bag that closely resembles that used by cake decorators. Unlike the Middle East, the main reason to get henna is for show and not some profound meaning.

The women I worked with in the local schools would often have henna parties and show off their gorgeous designs the next day! Henna art has been used for centuries as a form of decoration for brides in countries as diverse as India, Pakistan and parts of the African continent.In Africa, henna was traditionally used as part of a ritual by tribes who would decorate their bodies using symbolic protective artistry. Indian designs comprise of large shapes which are often highly decorated and filled with henna shapes.Mehndi decorations are growing in popularity across the globe, with interested parties requesting designs featuring parts of their own culture, for example Celtic knot work or Japanese writing. The paste is applied to the skin in intricate designs and as it dries and hardens it begins to fall off leaving behind an orange tint. In the hands of a capable artist, these intricate patterns can be applied freehand but there are templates available as well to make the task much easier. The sentimental factors involved have been removed and what's left is something very basic and watered down. Somali culture encourages the use of henna on women and girls during festivals and weddings, or when visiting important people or relatives.Most countries accept the need for women to look beautiful, and the intricacy of the henna tattoo used reveals a great deal about the wealth of the family as well as the value placed on their women. Immediately after application, the tattoos are orange but darken over time to turn a burnt sienna colour.Henna stains can last up to a month, depending on the quality of the paste, skin type and how long the paste stays in contact with the skin. Henna done at the circus, carnivals and Renaissance fairs are just several examples of western style henna.
Ideally, the paste will stay on the skin for several hours to allow the colour to fully develop.

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